For me, Thanksgiving has been a time of story-sharing from one generation to the next. I recall long tables in the basement of my childhood home filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles, first/second/third cousins, and the random relative or friend who I could never figure out how they fit in the mix. There were often “unrelated” elderly people present who did not have a family to share the meal with. Kids were mixed in with the adults – there was no “children’s table” of isolation. Most of all I remember the laughter and the passing of casseroles, including the jello mold containing unknown substances (shout out to National Lampoon’s Family Christmas).Continue reading A Zoom Thanksgiving
For a long time the Church has shared Bible stories with children that have included someone else’s moral or theological interpretation. In truth, the Bible has always been used to teach children right from wrong and the Golden Rule. In some part, this has lead to a generation of children (and adults) who are really moralistic therapeutic deists. Thankfully there are other opportunities to engage children IN the biblical story without adding our own interpretation or the “correct” answers as to why God did this or that. We the advent of Godly Play and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, we know the importance of open-ended questions, wondering, and allowing children to experience the stories of God with their heart before their head.Continue reading Biblical Story Making
In August of 1998, a resource developed by the Rev. Ernesto Medina (then in the Diocese of Los Angeles and now retired in the Diocese of Nebraska) made its debut on the church-wide level. Entitled The Authority of Generations, this process became the foundation for the National Episcopal Children’s Ministries Conference held at Camp Allen (Diocese of Texas) in September 1998. Hundreds came from across the Episcopal Church to further explore a Children’s Charter for the Church and how to implement it on the congregational and diocesan level. Each morning, small groups of 8-10 people gathered across the main campus to pray, read scripture, sing, and share stories. All of this was grounded in hearing everyone’s voice on an equal level.Continue reading The Authority of Generations
I’ve been waiting for this book ever since Today is a Baptism Day was released two years ago. Anna V. Ostenso Moore (author) and Peter Krueger (illustrator) have given young and old another gift with We Gather at This Table. With a gentle voice Anna shares how important it is for all ages to come together for the sharing of sacred stories, prayer, song, and fellowship. And during this time of being physically distant from each other, this book is especially touching as we recall how we can still find Jesus’ presence among us when we gather with those in our “safe circle” to share meals and tell stories of Jesus.Continue reading We Gather at This Table
Knowing that all of us will be observing Holy Week at home this year (2020), Christian formation folks as well as publishers are making a number of resources available for free. From streaming Bible study and worship to downloadable coloring sheets and devotions, it can be a bit overwhelming to recall what you saw shared online and forgot to “bookmark.” I’ve been keeping a running tab of ideas that have popped up in the blogposts, newsletters, and social media feeds I follow. Here are some ideas I feel worth passing along for you to check out. (And this post won’t “disappear” in your feed!)
Prayers and Devotions
Church Publishing has offered a free online version (via Issu) of Call on Me: A Prayer Book for Young People by Jenifer Gamber and myself. It’s now available free until 11:59pm EST April 15, 2020. View it here.
Roger Hutchison, artist, Christian educator, and of numerous books including Under the Fig Tree and Jesus: God Among Us (great for Holy Week and Easter reading) has been leading a Bible study on his Vimeo channel based on Jesus Among Us. You can also view his reading of The Very Best Day on the site.
StoryMakers NYC has created a new curriculum that is tailored towards the developmental stages of children and young teens on their Christian journey through wonderful illustrations and creative storytelling and activities. They have been making weekly sessions available for free, including great videos of the Sunday Gospel lesson. Check out their website for freebies and how to get on their mailing list to obtain the weekly video in your inbox.
The Godly Play Foundation has made available for download two sets of materials to go with The Faces of Easter prints (purchase the digital story here) and The Parable of the Good Shepherd figures (digital story here for download/purchase). Whether your materials are waiting for you safely at your church for when you return or you want to try Godly Play for the first time, this is an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons.
Every Friday night Daneen Akers, author of the new amazing book Holy Troublemakers and Unconventional Saints, will offer a story from the book. This one is very timely – the story of Florence Nightingale.
The Center for Children and Theology offers a set of ten templates: five lightly lined sheets with borders reflecting the themes of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (the True Vine, the cross, the nativity, prophetic and angelic announcements) and five practice sheets for learning the strokes of lower and upper case letter of calligraphy.
Candle Press has been producing downloadable “To Go” sheets for churches to send home or via email to families for years. Founder Helen Barron has made available four “To Go: At Home” sheets for families to engage in prayer, activities, and discussion on Lenten themes: In the Ark, God is Here, A Boat in the Storm, and Martha and Mary. All you need to do is sign up for her monthly email. Here is a taste with God is Here.
GenOn Ministries is giving away sessions to gather around the kitchen table, coffee table, picnic blanket, or anywhere food is shared. Use it for any meal or snack time, any day of the week, to break bread, study the Bible, play, and pray—together. It’s a fun and easy way to add a faith and fun component to mealtime. Maybe with grandparents or friends over Zoom or FaceTime? It could become a new Sunday morning or Friday night tradition!
- Prayers for the days of Holy Week from Common Prayer for Children and Families by Jenifer Gamber and Timothy J.S. Seamans
- Holy Week coloring sheets and puzzles by Anne Kitch from What We Do in Lent
- Way of Love coloring posters (in English and Spanish) from Jay Sidebotham
- A chapter on how to talk about Good Friday with your children from Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents by Wendy Claire Barrie
- The Easter reflection (with art) from Roger Hutchison in Under the Fig Tree
- Use your LEGOs to tell the story, “Jesus Enters Jerusalem” from Building Faith Brick by Brick by Emily Given
- A chapter from my book Faithful Celebrations: Making Time for God from Mardis Gras through Pentecost about observing Maundy Thursday in your home.
With many thanks to all these individuals and publishers for making this resources available. Please check out their websites and support their ministries.